I’ve always been grateful to the teachers who had introduced the method of Ashtanga Vinyasa method, and those who had been inspiring me to continue in such demanding practice till today.
While having a chit chat with my working partner, Shirly last week--- both of us were pouring out our concerns on our recent physical pains & injuries from the practices. Ironically, instead of shunning away from the practice altogether, we were encouraging each other how we should take a step back and modify our practice accordingly to our physical condition.
While there are 6 series in the Ashtanga Vinyasa collection, I have tasted that Primary and some bites from the Secondary.
The Primary series is a no- escape for anyone is coming into this traditional teaching. It has a name give to this full sequence as “ Yoga Chikitasa”--- means “ Yoga Therapy”. Bashing off the idea of a slow and sweat-less session commonly seen in today’s yoga studios--- this is a very pro-active style of therapy. With the benefit of thorough physical detoxification, one couldn’t imagine how much bad stuff had been living off inside us for years.
The Primary series don’t just take 10 or 20 sessions, 1 or 2 months to“ complete”. It took me 4 years (since 2009) before i'm allowed to... or a teacher give me the first pose of the Secondary series.
Of course I was delighted, it felt like I’ve “graduated” from the Primary and moving on to the Secondary. The Second series holds a different purpose of the practice. After the body purification process from the Primary, one is then ready to face the next deeper level of purification--- Nadi Shodhana, also know as "Nerve Purification."
This nerve breaking practice can almost give me a mental breakdown. It not only involves in many deep back- bends and twists; it demands for so much strength I couldn’t have imagined. It sways me between the sense of fear and frustration, and constant testing of my tolerance level to walk out of the room.
Never a thought I would want to avoid or give up this series—even though I’m at a snail crawling speed. The indescribable nice effect after the practice is invaluable.
While so much chest opening movement are involved, which opens the door of our heart centre--- a very intimate place in each of us, where our emotions stay.
Like lifting the lid of the Pandora box, once the contents in the box are revealed, the fluctuation of the mind is almost unmanageable at times. However, when each layer shows up, I learnt something about myself.
And so, finally one fine day during my exploration of this passionate series, I injured myself. The physical pain was not as bad as the guilt and self- blame that was happening inside me. It felt as if I’ve disrupted my own practice by not able to move anymore forward.
I couldn’t swallow the pride of having to retrace back to the Primary series. At first, I felt like a downgraded practice. Still expecting my body to perform the expected level... eventually I came peace with myself and decided to listen to the crying pain of my knee.
Ok, I’ll go back to the primary and even modify it--- after all, I was the one who landed myself in this situation.
Days ago, I would have carry the thought that our practice can only move forward. After the peaceful pact, I’ve realized that the practice is an expansion of knowledge as a whole learning tank, which I can always revisit what I’ve acquired previously as an assistant to the difficulties I’m facing at the present time.
Shirly gave a very good example (learning from her previous injures)--- it felt like someone had just pushed you down the stairs while you thought you’ve been doing well climbing almost to the top. And back down to the first step again, the frustration is not helpful at all. Being angry or sad will not bring me back to where I fell from--- why not look forward and retrace the steps up again.
This is when the mind will start to look down on the physical, blubbering unconstructive comments--- while the injured physical is still shouting like a child. I’ve learned to create space between both for wisdom to handle what’s appropriate.
And yes, my knee got so much better than I thought, whee!